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The Economic Decline of Circassian Mamluks in Egypt

DOI: 10.3923/ibm.2011.345.348

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Abstract:

In Islamic history, the word Mamluk means a slave, more specifically a white slave used in the military establishment. In the Ayyubid kingdom, the Mamluks served as the armies and later took the throne and appointed themselves as the sultans. For >250 years, they ruled Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. The era of Mamluk rule can be divided into two periods. The 1st period is Turkish Mamluk (1250-1381) and the 2nd period is Circassian Mamluk (1382-1517). It is widely accepted among scholars that the Mamluk sultanate reached its splendour under the Turkish sultans and then fell into a prolonged phase of deterioration under the Circassians. Therefore, the principal aim of this study is to examine the economic situation of the Circassian Mamluks in Egypt during the 50 years before the fall of the sultanate. This study finds that there were several reasons which affected the economy during the period under review such as the instability of political situation and the problems in agriculture, industry, commerce and monetary system. Another factors which disrupted the economic activities were the disturbances caused by the Julbans, the Bedouin, the Portuguese and the Frankish pirates. The study concludes that the factors which undermined the economic situation of the Circassian Mamluks in Egypt from 1468-1517 did not lead to a total collapse of the economy. Rather, the decline during this period should be understood as a further deterioration in an already weakened economic situation.

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